• Camp Lejeune tracks abandoned in 2001

  • A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads
A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by RailVet
"Destination: Freedom," the online rail newsletter, carried the following article in February 19, 2001 edition. Camp Lejeune's single locomotive, a GE 65-ton centercab, now operates on the New Hope Valley Railroad in Bonsal, NC. A picture of it may be found here:


The D:F article is below:

Marine Corps is losing its North Carolina railroad.

Last October, the Camp Lejeune Railroad Company (CL), a Norfolk Southern subsidiary, petitioned the Surface Transportation Board to abandon a 5.5-mile rail line between milepost CK-2.5 at Camp Lejeune and milepost CK-8.0 at Marine Junction, in Onslow County, N.C.

The STB said okay last week.

No freight service had originated or terminated on the line since June 1999. Two shippers located on the line, Barrus Concrete (APAC Carolina, Inc.) and Eastern Rulane Sales Corp. did not oppose the proposed abandonment, so the abandonment is effective on March 4.

The CL operated over the line under a lease from the federal government, but even though the government owns the line, it never operated it as a common carrier. CL's lease expired in August 1999, at which time it stopped service on the line. According to CL, the feds will not renew the lease because it wants the property.

The City of Jacksonville and NCDOT plan to use the property for a trail, commercial development, and to accommodate street improvements.


  by SemperFidelis
That's a shame. I recall visiting my sister, when she was in the Corps, and then when I was stationed there, spending time down by the tracks with one of my platoon mates from "up north", playing chess, and occassioanlly catching a coal train moving onto base.

As I recall, we shipped a good amount of wheeled equipment to and from the base on TTX flatcars. Also, as I recall, there is a second line off of the base, which branches off somewhere between main gate and "mainside" and connects to the rail system also. I wonder if that was abandoned as well.

As I recall, the line through town had a bridge along it, and the other line off base did not. Maybe just one line is abandoned and the other remains active.
  by RailVet
As far as I can tell, the abandonment includes all track associated with the base. The locomotive was excessed and acquired by an excursion railroad elsewhere in the state, so it doesn't appear that any further rail operations are taking place at or near the base. I haven't been there for over a decade, so I can't say, from personal experience, what's there now, but it appears the days of rail at Camp Lejeune are over.
  by SemperFidelis
Update on inactive thread (last post in 2008):

Rail is still active aboard Camp Lejeune. There were two separate lines that travelled into the base from different points along the NS line in the area. The line that accessed the base near the main gate by Jacksonville was apparently abandoned. The other line, which accesses the base at a oint more to the south remains in service. Coal apparently still fires the boilers and units that need to reach an embarkation point still send most of their very heavy equipment via rail.
  by RailVet
Glad to read that the base railway is still intact. When I dropped by for a visit one afternoon in mid-1995, I found the crew playing cards. They didn't seem to have a lot to keep them occupied. Go to this website, look at the third locomotive on the roster and you'll see what happened to the GE 65-ton that was once at Camp Lejeune:

  by SemperFidelis
You know, when we were in the market for a few locomotives I wanted to track down the old Lejeune units. The last I looked LTE had two former Navy or Marine Corps units whose lineage I was going to investigate. Never leave a locomotive behind...

If we get back into the market I'm going to see if I can get my hands on that 65 tonner. It would probably serve us quite well and I'd love to give it a nice coat of something similar to "Blue Dress Alphas". I wonder how that would look on a loco?

The various times I was aboard the government units were in differing states of repair. Most of the action was coal, generally handled by an few NS units. We loaded some vehicles a few times, but those were more peaceful days back then so the "action" was very limited.

I wonder what ever became of their idea to run a commuter train aboard base between mainside and Cherry Point NAS? I realize I'm about to sound like every relative I know who was in the Corp: Commuter train? Hell, back in my day when we had to go between bases we donned a pair of boots and humped it, with full gear, in the freezing rain, three times a day.
  by RailVet
LTE has often been quick to snap up excessed military centercab switchers. If you have the numbers of some switchers whose lineage you'd like to investigate, let me know what they are and I'll see what I can turn up.

After reading the initial article about the proposed commuter train between Camp Lejeune and MCAS Cherry Point, I never heard any more about it, and I suspect that's as far as it went. A problem at both ends is that the bases are spread out, and unless your destination is within walking distance from the stations, a train wouldn't be very practical and people would still prefer to drive. At the very least, a circular shuttle bus service would be needed at both ends.

Most likely the project was put on the back burner as "nice to have someday when the money is available." If the track belongs to NS, then the answer back from the railroad may very well have been "No, no and more no."
  by SemperFidelis
Very true. I never spent too much time aboard Cherry Point, but Lejeune's many different areas were divided by many, many miles. The existing end of rail on Lejeune remains in a warehousing and logistics area from which very little is within a reasonable walking distance (well...reasonable walk to work distance anyway).

The road system on Lejeune really has always had a capacity problem, and now that the active Corps is about 40,000 Marines stronger I'm sure that situation has not changed. The taxi cab services down there ought to be kicked off base (my opinion) and replaced by an internal shuttle with a cabstand somewhere near main gate, but rumor always had it that most of the cab companies were kicking back to this person or that or were owned by a former Colonel. One way or the other, the prices they charged were ridiculous. Having a private vehicle aboard base, especially back by Courthouse Bay was a very lucrative venture at times.

It seems sort of odd to imagine the Marine Corps, the service whose budgetary constraints forced us to constantly ignore that line between "being efficient" and "not doing it right", would decide to run a commuter rail operation.